Media - Solar Citizens

Media Releases

NSW Energy Announcement a Step in Right Direction

Wednesday, 31 October: The Emerging Energy Program, announced today by the NSW Government, is welcomed as a step in the right direction by community group Solar Citizens.

“It’s great to see the NSW Government release a plan that will help steer the state towards a clean energy future,” said Joseph Scales, Solar Citizens’ National Director.

“NSW’s ageing coal clunkers are reaching the end of their lives, so supporting more low-cost renewables with storage is the right move for lower bills and less pollution.”

The program is designed to help replace the state’s coal plants over the next 15 years and will provide funding for eligible large-scale dispatchable projects.

“While the Federal Government has abandoned any policy attempt to support the transition to renewables with storage, this plan shows that the economics stack up and the transition is here,” said Mr Scales.

“Solar and wind are already cheaper, and this plan is the first step to provide the investor certainty needed to repower NSW with clean energy.

“So far this program seems positive, however as more details emerge, it will be disappointing if this scheme funnels money into expensive gas generation.

“NSW has world-class solar and wind resources – tapping into these could provide more energy than all of the state’s coal and gas reserves combined.”

While Solar Citizens applauds the NSW Government's latest energy announcement, there is still more work to do to lock in a clean, renewable future for NSW and assist transitioning communities.

ENDS

Media contact: Stephanie Gray 0425543006

Energy Minister backs down, heeds calls from solar consumers to save SRES

Wednesday, 24 October: As part of his energy announcements this week, Minister Angus Taylor has finally heeded calls from solar consumers led by Solar Citizens to rule out axing the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme (SRES).

‘This is a huge win for consumers around the country – saving the SRES will mean more Australians can enjoy the benefits of solar and lower their energy bills,’’ says Solar Citizens’ National Director Joseph Scales.

“The Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme makes investing in rooftop solar affordable.

“The cost of rooftop solar would increase by approximately 30% by axing Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme.”

The ACCC gave a misguided recommendation to cut the SRES nine years early or even immediately.

Solar Citizens mobilised thousands of solar consumers to call on the Federal Government to rule this out:

  • Nearly 10,000 signed our open letter to the Energy Minister (jointly with Smart Energy Council);
  • Hundreds of constituents contacted their MP asking them to join our call to rule out axing the SRES; and,
  • Numerous people wrote to their local papers and had letters to the editor published which explained the benefit of the SRES.

“Energy consumers are tired of being taken for a ride by electricity retailers, which is why Australians are installing solar at record rates so that they can take the power back into their own hands,” concludes Mr Scales.

The Abbott Government also backed down from cutting the SRES and the RET in 2015 when Solar Citizens delivered petitions with 28,000 signatures to the Government.

ENDS

Media contact: Stephanie Gray 0425543006

Energy Companies Attack Rooftop Solar to Protect Profits

Thursday, 11 October: It's galling to see energy gentailers that recorded huge profits last year encourage the Federal Government to make it harder for Australian households to slash their electricity bills with solar, says community group Solar Citizens.

In a speech yesterday, spokespeople from both Origin and EnergyAustralia encouraged the Federal Government to scrap solar subsidies, including the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme (SRES).

"Everyday people are taking the power back with rooftop solar," said Solar Citizens’ National Director, Joseph Scales.

"While the big energy companies have been making huge profits, Australians have taken matters into their own hands by installing solar to produce their own cheap, clean energy.

"1.9 million households and businesses can't be wrong, solar is the best way for people to reduce their electricity bills."

In the first half of this year, EnergyAustralia made headlines after nearly trebling their earnings, largely due to the higher wholesale electricity prices. In a speech yesterday, Energy Australia’s head of energy Mark Collette claimed that their opposition to the SRES was based on helping low-income families.

“If the Federal Government and the big energy companies were serious about helping low-income households, they would keep schemes like the SRES that help more people go solar,” said Mr Scales.

“Low-income households have been at the mercy of Australia’s big three energy gentailers for too long – scrapping the SRES will only make the upfront cost of solar a bigger hurdle for people that are doing it tough.

“It’s obvious the only reason EnergyAustralia and Origin want to axe support for solar is because it is competition to their soaring profits, putting power back in the hands of the consumer.

“If big energy companies were serious about the energy transition, they would be talking about how we manage the grid not how to slow down solar uptake.

“For too long big energy companies have enjoyed control over consumers – now that everyday people are taking back control, they want to slam on the brakes.

“Slowing down the transition by axing solar schemes will do nothing to reduce energy bills.”

Despite the rhetoric from the big energy players, rooftop solar helps all energy consumers. A report commissioned by Solar Citizens found that in just one year NSW solar owners slashed the state's wholesale price of power by $2.2-3.3 billion, largely by reducing peak demand.

ENDS

Media contact: Stephanie Gray 0425543006

Release in response to the comments made by Origin and EnergyAustralia spokespeople at the AFR National Energy Summit.

Clive's Coal Power Plan Dwarfed by Central Qld’s Renewable Energy Boom

The Solar Power Stations already being developed in Central Queensland will create more jobs, more investment and bring down power prices faster than Clive Palmer's latest crazy scheme, according to community group Solar Citizens.

“Clive Palmer’s proposed coal-fired power station in the Galilee Basin is a minnow compared to the clean energy power stations currently planned for the region,” said Solar Citizens' Queensland Coordinator Louise Matthiesson.

“Right now, there are 2 large solar power stations under construction in Central Queensland and another 10 in the planning stages.

“Combined, they involve $3 billion of investment and are expected to deliver 4,400 jobs during construction and 200 ongoing full-time jobs.

“That’s twice as much investment, and 3-4 times as many jobs as Clive’s coal-fired fantasy  and these projects are much more financially viable.

“Many of the companies behind the region’s solar projects are international renewable energy companies with a strong track record like Fotowatio Renewable Ventures and Acciona Energy.

“Mr Palmer has a long track record of making big announcements and failing to deliver, this proposal is likely to meet the same fate as his plans to rebuild the Titanic.

“The solar power stations could also deliver more electricity than Mr Palmer’s project, in fact they will have a combined capacity of 2,200MW, enough to power 1.6 million homes.

For comment contact: Louise Matthiesson 0406 041 428

SOURCE: Green Energy Markets (2018) ‘Renewable Energy Across Queensland’s Regions’ Full report and Central Qld Renewable Industry Profile available to download at: www.solarcitizens.org.au/qld_regions

Large-scale renewable energy projects in Central Queensland

Current at May 2018, includes projects >2MW [1]

Projects under construction

Fuel type

Project Name

Company

Capacity (MW)

Locality

Solar

Emerald Solar Farm

RES

68

Emerald

Solar

Lilyvale Solar Farm

Fotowatio Renewable Ventures

100

Tieri

 

Projects in development [2]

Fuel type

Project Name

Company

Capacity (MW)

Locality

Solar

Baralaba Solar Farm

Fotowatio Renewable Ventures

100

BARALABA

Solar

Bluff Solar Farm

Infigen Energy

100

BLUFF

Solar

Crinum Creek

Adani Renewables

100

TIERI

Solar

Bouldercombe Solar Farm

Eco Energy World

280

BOULDERCOMBE

Solar

Tieri Solar Farm

Fotowatio Renewable Ventures

96

TIERI

Solar

Comet Solar Farm

Hadstone Energy

235

COMET

Solar

Raglan Solar Farm

Eco Energy World

350

RAGLAN

Solar

Rodds Bay Solar Farm

Renew Estate

300

BOROREN

Solar

Yarwun Solar Farm

Renew Estate

27

YARWUN

Solar

Aldoga

Acciona Energy

265

ALDOGA

 

[1] Appendix B - ‘Renewable Energy Across Queensland’s Regions’ Green Energy Markets, 2018
[2] Projects ‘in-development’ have either: a site identified and landholder consent; submitted a development application to local Council; or have a development approval.

Bright day for Renewables in Victoria

Tuesday, 11 September: Solar Citizens commends the Victorian Government’s back-to-back renewable energy announcements today.

A re-elected Andrews Government will expand their already nation-leading commitments to help more households take the power back with rooftop solar and storage by providing half price solar batteries for 10,000 Victorian solar households.

“Victoria is driving down energy prices and giving consumers back control by making household solar and storage more accessible,” said Joseph Scales, Solar Citizens’ National Director.

“We’re hearing a lot of hot air from Canberra about reducing electricity prices, but here is an example of Government getting on with the job and delivering lower prices by embracing clean technology.

“We know that solar and batteries are popular with Australians, already 5 million of us live under a solar roof, but for many households the upfront cost can be a hurdle.

“By providing batteries at half the price, more Victorians will be able to enjoy the benefits of clean power around the clock, which is good news for consumers and the grid.”

The Victorian Government also today announced the outcomes of their first renewable energy auction, saying that it will generate more than 900MW of new, clean energy, including three solar farms and three wind farms.

“It’s great to see the Victorian Government creating jobs and lowering power bills in one fell swoop by backing clean energy projects,” said Mr Scales.

ENDS

Media Contact: Stephanie 0425543006

$24 billion Investment, 35,000 Jobs at Stake Without Qld Government Action to Support Renewables

Tuesday, 4 September: Queensland’s planned renewable energy projects could inject $24 billion into the state’s economy and support up to 35,000 jobs if the state government strengthens policy and support for the sector, according to a new Solar Citizens report.

Renewable Energy Across Queensland’s Regions shows there are currently 50 operational renewable energy projects and 27 under construction across the state*. BUT, an additional 69 planned renewable projects awaiting approvals and investment decisions are at risk of not going ahead.

Report author Tristan Edis said: “The renewable energy power stations built or committed to construction in Queensland since 2015 will deliver $4.2 billion in investment with 5,687 construction and 273 ongoing full-time jobs.

“If all renewable energy power plants being considered for investment were to proceed, the sector would generate six times more jobs and economic benefits to the state  - that’s $24 billion in investment, 34,000 construction jobs, 1,500 ongoing full-time jobs.”

The Solar Citizens report also found:

  • World class renewable energy resources: The state’s solar and wind farms are achieving levels of energy generation 20% to 50% greater than international standards.  

  • Rooftop solar boom: There are 550,000 rooftop solar systems in Queensland and the rooftop solar industry already supports an estimated 1,200 full time jobs.

  • Savings:  Queensland homes with solar save on average $720 per year on electricity bills, and businesses an average of $3,000. Across the state, that equates to an estimated at $414 million of savings.

  • Renewable energy targets: One quarter of Queensland’s electricity will come from renewable energy sources by 2020. The additional 15,000MW of proposed new renewable projects could lift renewable energy to over 90% of Queensland’s electricity needs.

Solar Citizens Queensland spokesperson Louise Matthiesson said: “Queensland’s high-quality sun, wind and water resources give us a major competitive advantage over other states and countries around the world.

“Without strong, consistent and ongoing policy support for renewables, it is highly likely Queensland will miss out on many of these opportunities and fall short of reaching its target of at least 50 per cent renewable energy by 2030.

Friday’s Clean Co announcement was a welcome step, but the state still lacks a clear renewable energy industry roadmap to harness this resource to create jobs and investment for regional Queensland.”

View the summary brochure and full report here www.solarcitizens.org.au/qld_regions

ENDS

Media contact - Jolee Wakefield 0415 833 948

Power to the People: Australia’s First Publicly-Owned Renewable Energy Company

Thursday, 30 August: Today’s announcement by the Queensland Government that they will come good on their election promise and set up renewable energy company CleanCo is welcomed by community group Solar Citizens.

The Palaszczuk Government announced that they will initially commit $250 million to progress the development of new, public renewable energy generation with the aim of having CleanCo trading by mid 2019.

“It’s great to see the Government acting decisively to implement this important election promise,” said Queensland Campaigner Louise Matthiesson.

“The Government is building the energy system of the future – these projects will be good for the environment and the economy.

“Building publicly-owned renewable energy power stations will create sustainable jobs in regional Queensland and shape our electricity system to meet the needs of Queenslanders, not multinational companies.

“This decision will be backed by ordinary Queenslanders. As Australia’s leaders in rooftop solar, it’s clean Queenslanders love clean, affordable power and voters have shown that they want to keep our electricity system in public hands.”

While Solar Citizens supports the decision to move the state’s existing hydro power plant under the ownership of CleanCo, the Queensland Government’s move to allow Swanbank E Gas to be owned and operated by CleanCo is disappointing.

“Gas is neither clean nor renewable. We’re concerned that it will distort the vision of CleanCo, which should be 100% focused on building a clean energy future for Queensland,” said Ms Matthiesson.

The Palaszczuk Government also announced that they will establish a Just Transition Group to help affected communities through the energy transition.

“We welcome the Palaszczuk Government’s efforts announced today to ensure a just transition for Queenslanders,” said Ms Matthiesson.

“In order for everyone to enjoy the benefits of the transition to renewables, we need to support workers and communities previously dependent on high-carbon energy generation.”

“Today’s announcements are an important step forward towards the Government’s target of at least 50% renewable energy by 2030, but our state still needs a clear roadmap to guide the transition.”

ENDS

Media Contact: Louise Matthiesson 0406041428

NSW clean energy funding a ray of sunshine

The NSW Government’s announcement of $85million in funding for regional community energy and storage projects is a welcome first step according to Solar Citizens.

“This is a great step to support communities to install solar and to take back control of not just their power bills but their energy system,” said Joseph Scales, National Director at Solar Citizens.

“Community-owned energy opens up the benefits of rooftop solar to households who might not be able to put it on their own roofs because they’re renters or their properties aren’t suitable.

“Regional community energy hubs will enable more and more people to be part of the rooftop revolution.

“Five community energy hubs is a good start but we need more of them all across the state and especially in Western Sydney to be a trusted source of independent advice.

“It’s great for the NSW Government to make this initial investment in clean energy but we’ve seen the Victorian Government put $1.2 billion on the table this week for rooftop solar and now’s the time for the Berejiklian Government to go further.

“With the Federal Government making clear this week they won’t do anything to support a fast and fair transition to renewable energy it’s heartening to see the states stepping up but NSW has a lot to do so it’s not be left behind.

“Now is the time for the Berejiklian Government to step up and make sure NSW doesn’t miss out on more renewable energy investment by setting a target and supporting households to go solar.

“Unless NSW takes a proactive approach to renewable energy, the investment will simply flow into other states and territories that already have renewable energy targets and schemes like reverse auctions in place,” said Mr Scales.

Turnbull Throws Renewable Energy Under the Bus

Monday, 20 August: The Turnbull Government’s announcement this morning that the National Energy Guarantee (NEG) will no longer include emission reduction targets is another kick in the teeth for Australia’s renewable energy industry, says community group Solar Citizens.

“What remains of the National Energy Guarantee policy will do absolutely nothing to support Australians who want to go solar or the expansion of renewables in Australia,” says Solar Citizens National Director Joseph Scales.

The latest changes to the NEG, come as the Federal Government remains silent on whether it will concurrently try to pass the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) recommendation to slash the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme (SRES) nine years early.

“Today’s changes to the NEG policy, coupled with the Turnbull Government's failure to rule out scrapping the small-scale solar scheme, will undermine future efforts of everyday Australians to power their lives with renewable energy,” said Mr Scales.

“It’s clear that Australians love renewable energy; more than five million of us live under solar roofs.

“Rather than bow to pressure from a handful of backbenchers, the Prime Minister should listen to the will of the people and construct energy policy that supports the growth of renewables and solar.

“Solar is the only certain way for households to take back control of soaring power bills, and if the Turnbull Government was serious about helping consumers, it would support more Australians install solar.”

Last week energy giant Origin came out in support of slashing the SRES, at the same time that Australia’s big energy companies have been reporting record profits.

“The Turnbull Government needs to stop pandering to the backbench and the big end of town, and instead help energy consumers take the power back,” said Mr Scales.

“Solar energy is not only cheaper for those living under a solar roof, Solar Citizens’ expert analysis has shown that solar brings down the wholesale price of energy for everyone.

“The new NEG policy is an even bigger dud of a deal for consumers. The Government should listen to the interests of consumers and have the guts to bring forward a real energy plan and rule out cuts to rooftop solar.”

--

Media contact: Stephanie Gray 0425543006

Andrews Government rooftop solar investment right way to bring down power prices

Sunday, 19 August: Solar Citizens applauds the announcement by the Victorian Andrews Government today to provide financing support for 50% of the upfront cost for 650,000 Victorian homes to go solar.

‘The only certain way to bring down your energy bill is by going solar,’ says Solar Citizens National Director Joseph Scales.

‘Unfortunately, many people are locked out of enjoying the benefits of cheaper energy bills that solar provides because they can’t afford the upfront cost.  The Andrews Government has today provided a simple but significant answer to that,’ explains Mr Scales.

‘While the Turnbull Government is actually making it harder for people to go solar, by cutting the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme (SRES) and disincentivizing solar through the NEG, we are once again relying on leadership of states.’

If governments are serious about bringing down power prices they will work to make rooftop solar accessible to more households.

‘The Andrews’ Government’s announcement today will help more people join the solar revolution -- so they can take back control of their soaring energy prices and enjoy the benefits of rooftop solar.’

‘It’s not just solar owners who benefit.  Experts agree that renewable energy helps bring down power prices. An Energy Synapse report commissioned by Solar Citizens last year showed that wholesale power prices in one state would have been 33-50 per cent higher if it weren’t for rooftop solar,’ adds Mr Scales.

Solar Citizens is an independent, community-based organisation bringing together millions of solar owners and supporters to grow and protect solar in Australia.

ENDS

Media contact: Joseph Scales 0429 033 210